Dear Appy Pony,
I will start by giving you a quick background of myself. I was born on a large beautiful race breeding farm to a mother that was a famous racehorse. But I don’t do well under pressure and needless to say, I failed to live up to my mothers expectations. The Owner of the track sent me away to something called an “auction.” Anyways, that’s all behind me now because I have a wonderful loving Owner who cares for me and spends lots of time with me. For the past few weeks we have had a wonderful time riding around the small circle arena together. I am a good listener and my new Owner is very soft and gentle with her cues. She seems to prefer that I do not go too fast and this life seems much lower in pressure to me.
One day recently, I could barely overhear a conversation between my Owner and a new “Trainer” as I was eavesdropping thru the tackroom/stall wall. I like to eavesdrop and do this often. If a human comes by I just quickly slacken my expression and pretend like I am merely napping and leaning up against that wall. The conversation was something about the trainer riding me, learning something new, vacation, I’m not really sure but they definitely said my name. I’m sure of that.
The very next day the trainer came to my stall to take me out instead of my beloved new Owner. I expressed my suspicion with a loud snort and a few steps backwards but the trainer seemed confident so I allowed her to halter me and I followed willingly to go get tacked up. This Trainer lady took me to a large arena on the other side of the property that had many different colored road blocks scattered throughout it. There was one that looked like a brick wall, another like a stone wall, and one even looked like a large mound or wall made entirely of grass. The trainer let me stop to stare and snort at the wall of grass but to my surprise it certainly didn’t smell like grass at all. Strange.
I was very nervous to be away from my familiar circle arena but I felt that I might somehow disappoint my beloved new Owner if I did not cooperate with this Trainer. So every day I tried my best to be brave.
I was pleasantly surprised the first few rides because once she was in the saddle we seemed to get along just fine, despite my previous suspicions. She was very talented at steering and managed to help me maneuver safely around the arena without crashing into any of these crazy looking roadblocks that someone had haphazardly left inside the riding arena. Each day I stepped out with more confidence and pretty soon we were going through all the usual paces together. I missed my loving Owner but I was beginning to like this trainer as a good substitute during whatever a “vacation” means. Until one day…………
One day, everything suddenly took a turn for the worst. It was like my trainer had completely forgotten how to steer correctly. One moment I am happily cantering around the arena in and around all of the road blocks and then the very next moment she is facing me directly at one!!! YIKES!! With the impressive prowess of a cat I managed to swerve at the very last second in a desperate attempt to correct our path and save us from impending doom. I’m still not sure how I narrowly missed that collision course she set us on, but I did. Only now this Trainer lady is hanging off my side with her arms wrapped around my neck screaming obscenities. In hind sight I think perhaps she was feeling ill and had lost her ability to correctly steer, I think I should have halted to assist her with her dismount but I had no idea that she wanted to get off. After what just happened all I could think was to panic so I began to do what I do best….run.
Now, you must understand that I am a very forgiving and understanding horse and so if this had been a one time incident I probably would not feel the need to seek your professional help but to my horror it has now happened every time she has taken me out for a ride. I even tried another strategy to help keep us both safe. After I had time to ponder on the event back in my stall I realized that bolting around and taking off running was forcing her to dismount at a high speed and only causing her to become more and more angry. One evening while brainstorming I came up with an excellent idea and decided to try it the very next ride. As usual we spent the first 15 – 20 minutes going through our paces easily but inevitably there came a time during our canter that she would point me straight at one of the road blocks. This time I resisted the urge to dodge and run. Mustering all my courage I faced straight forward to that daunting obstacle at hand, tucked my hind quarters as best I could and slid safely to a halt right in front. Unfortunately my plan was not perfect because the Trainer lady then went sailing over my head, over the roadblock and onto the ground on the other side. All my self control in mustering up a steady halt suddenly vanished and panic struck my heart once again. Before I knew it I was doing what I do best….. running like a half crazed maniac around the large arena. Like I said, I don’t do well with pressure.
I would love to ask some of the other horses at the ranch about this, perhaps this poor trainer has been struck by some kind of strange disease of the limbs that cause her to jerk the reins in a direction she is not intending? But I can’t ask anybody because my box stall is located between the tack room on one side and an aisle way on the other so I have no neighbors. My Owner says I cannot be turned out to play with other horse because I may hurt and injure myself, so I am at a complete loss and left in the dark.
Being ever determined to make my beloved Owner proud, when ever she returns, I decided it would be best to try and keep her Trainer friend as safe as possible. So my third and final attempt was during todays ride. I happily greeted her in the stall and willingly followed her to go get tacked up. I remembered that me and my beloved Owner had always had much success in the little circle arena and perhaps that is where this trainer and I belonged as well. So once we were mounted and headed across the property towards the large arena I planted all four legs with confidence and protested either of us going any farther then the little circle arena. For the safety of us both, this is as far as we go and that is final. I was so proud of myself for stepping up and taking the lead, for making the tough decision that needed to be made. If we were going to have a successful ride it was going to be back here far away from any hazardous road blocks.
To my surprise this Trainer lady did not seem to appreciate my concern for her well being. She began to throw a tantrum and the next thing I know there are whips and spurs and all sorts of devices I would never have expected would need to be utilized on a willing sensitive horse such as myself. The day was very traumatic and quite the blur and I would prefer not to go into further details but now you can clearly see why I desperately need your great wisdom and advice.
Please Help quickly!!
Alone and Misguided
Dear Alone and Misguided,
You poor thing!
I am sorry for you but at the same time I can’t help but smile a little at your very innocent mistakes. In your short few years of life here you probably have not had the opportunity to observe the spectacular event of Horse Jumping. This is where a rider intentionally steers a horse towards an obstacle with the expectation that the horse will jump into the air, clearing the obstacle and will land safely on the other side. If you want to impress your Owner when she comes back there are a few tips and pointers I can give you. The next time you are pointed towards an obstacle:
1. I am assuming due to your breeding that you were picked for speedy jumping. So step up your bravery, face that obstacle head on, increase to an impressive racehorse speed and sail into the air to conquer it.
2. Make sure to jump extra high with your legs for safety. They like that.
3. Help them to understand how much you enjoy your new jumping career by frolicking around in every corner after the jump.
4. No matter how tempting, DO NOT stop quickly to smell the flowers, that usually ends badly.
5. Sometimes the rider cannot be trusted to make clear decisions in front of the jump. So I find it best to grab a hold tightly of the bit with your teeth and take over the piloting when you are a few strides away. The rider may assume control back after you are done frolicking thru the corner.
6. I do not have this experience myself but I hear it is dangerous to jump anything Blue. So don’t.
7. Also, DO NOT jump anything that looks like there may be Trolls hiding underneath. Those suckers can leap up and grab your legs in the blink of an eye.
8. If you enter a competition. I believe the number of canter strides taken in between two jumps in a row are counted much like a golf score. The fewer the better.
9. I know you are worried about pressure at horseshows but if you make sure to snort like a dragon and prance around the show grounds when you are outside the arena waiting for your class it will not only intimidate your competition but it will get your lungs expanded to hold lots of oxygen, just in case you feel the need to hold your breath during your performance.
I am excited for your new possibilities. Embrace it and remember all my pointers!!
Love and Carrots,